When making decisions about how to invest your time and online marketing budget, there are a few important distinctions to consider, including the difference between PPC (pay-per-click) ads and SEO (search engine optimization).
Improvements to SEO can help your website rank higher on Google Search by making it more relevant to users, while PPC ads like Google Ads are paid online advertisements which allow businesses and website owners like you to bid on the chance to show an ad next to searches on Google.com.
What is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of including content on your site that has the potential to improve your site’s visibility to search engines and their users. In other words, SEO can help your site show up more often in relevant searches.
There are a number of things to look for when trying to improve your site’s SEO. Here are some tips to get you started:
On the topic of keywords: while it’s a good idea to include search terms in your site copy, make sure you’re not cluttering your page with too many search terms, or putting up fake pages you don’t intend users to see. Doing this may lead to Google considering your pages deceptive and ignoring your site, so think about what will be easiest for a user to navigate and understand.
There's no cost to appear in organic search results like Google's, and making changes to improve your website's SEO, can greatly impact your search rankings over time.
Learn more about how Google organic search works and find tips for getting started here. You can track your progress and see how your content is performing using Search Console.
What does “PPC” mean, and when should you use PPC ads?
Google Ads is Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) advertising solution, which allows businesses to bid on keywords for a chance to show ads in Google search results.
When using Google Ads, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad to visit your site or call your business. Plus, you can tweak your ads anytime to reach a specific group of people (by interest, geographical area, etc.) or promote a specific deal or product. This flexibility can be a great resource for small companies who can't frequently update their website to reflect sales, promotions or seasonal offerings.
Google Ads also gives you the option of promoting your business outside of Google Search by showing ads on relevant websites in the Google Display Network (GDN). The GDN is made up of thousands of sites across the web, where you can connect with even more potential customers. You can pick specific sites to run display ads, or choose the types of people you’d like to reach and let Google Ads create a list for you.
A PPC ad solution like Google Ads doesn’t have the same results as SEO and won’t improve your organic search rankings. Instead, Google Ads can help you display your ads to potential customers, at the exact moment they're searching for a business like yours.
Why Won't Paid Google PPC ads help my SEO?
Google’s first responsibility is to provide users with the most relevant Search results. If businesses were able to use paid SEO methods for higher rankings in search results, users wouldn’t be getting the information they’re looking for.
So should I invest in SEO or PPC ads?
Which works better - SEO or PPC ads? It depends on what you would like to achieve, because SEO and PPC can help your business in different ways.
In a nutshell: SEO is an important tool for successful online marketing because it gives your business the best chance of being found, even if the optimization process takes awhile to get right. PPC ads let you reach customers more immediately and customize your campaign on the fly.
If your goal is to drive traffic to your site in the short term, you might choose to focus on PPC ads. If you want to enhance your business’s online presence in the long run, SEO is the answer. Alternatively, invest your time and energy in both SEO and PPC for a well-rounded strategy.
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